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Why you must learn to be a good loser in PR

We all hate losing. Whether it is not winning the office sweepstake, not getting that dream job, or losing the pitch for a fantastic PR client, it is always tough to be told you were unsuccessful.

I really hate coming second because I am competitive and I can well understand how difficult it is to interview for a job and then not get it. So I believe you need to actively work out how to use a negative situation to your advantage. Asking for feedback is good practice and should be a core part of the pitch and job interview processes.

When you apply for a job I hope you put in a lot of effort to research your interviewer and the organisation you want to work for. If you have put in the time to find out about what makes them tick and you have gone through what can sometimes be a lengthy application process, it does seem reasonable to ask for feedback.

As with many PR and public affairs companies, when we interview candidates we put them through a written test. It always surprises me how few people come back after being unsuccessful and ask about the results of that test and the interview as a whole. It not only demonstrates an interest in the business for the future, but it also shows you took it seriously and that you want to learn from it. You will learn too, if the feedback is good and it might help you in the next interview as all interviews are experience.

A handy cribsheet of questions post-interview is a good idea. If you are going through the interview process, I suggest you create one. It might include questions such as these:

  • How did I interview and are there pointers you would give me for another time?
  • Was there anything you thought I got fundamentally wrong? Or were there particular strengths in my approach that you liked?
  • What was the outcome of my written test and can you tell me what I could do to improve on it in the future?

Similarly, when a business such as ours pitches for a large PR or public affairs client, we invest time and money into creating a compelling proposal and presentation. Given our investment, it is only reasonable that we should not just hear that we did not win (yes, it does happen sometimes!), but also why we didn’t get the contract.

Asking questions is a really valuable skill. Beginning a phone call or meeting with questions, not only gives time to open the conversation positively, but it is also a way of acquiring information you might not have had otherwise.  How many times do you get to the end of an interview or pitch and they ask for your questions, but you just dry up or ask something a bit lame?

Preparation is key to interaction, so you should always think carefully about the questions you are going to ask in any situation. They give you the chance to demonstrate something that might not yet have come across, or to find out something other interviewees are not being told. I might never know why I don’t win the office sweepstakes, but questioning the process might help me in the future, or at least accept my failure.

Do you agree with me?

Article written by Angela Casey, managing director of Pagoda Porter Novelli

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